Animal Control needs to address underlying issues | Opinion

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PHOTO BY STACIE LEWIS

WILD Canine Rescue and PAWS for Life staged a protest outside Sangamon County Animal Control on October 16, 2021, calling for the firing of Executive Director Greg Largent. He was eventually fired in May 2022, although the SCAC claimed the allegations of animal abuse and neglect at the facility were sensational and later proven to be false.

It’s not fixed. Changes have been made, but Sangamon County Animal Control is not fixed.

The fruits at hand were discussed. Now it is necessary to double down on the more complicated issues that have plagued the operation for years.

Overall operational changes have not been made. Sangamon County finally advertised the position of operations manager on October 13, which ends on October 29. Posted on region websites and Indeed.com, it has not been released to the obvious professional organizations – the National Animal Control Association, the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, and the Illinois Animal Welfare Federation. The county will not reach true professionals unless it is published on these platforms for a reasonable amount of time. As it stands, this is an utterly hypocritical effort that represents a horribly missed opportunity.

Animal control work has two primary functions: (1) the many facets of running an animal shelter well and (2) field service, which involves a wide range of law enforcement and ordinances. as well as the first response for animals in distress and various animals. /human interface issues.

The person in charge of Sangamon County Animal Control must have the experience and training necessary to carry out these responsibilities and lead and support staff. The operation faces a myriad of circumstances every day, requiring a thorough understanding of legal process, animal handling and animal health.

The field service side of the operation should have its own experienced and trained supervisor to support the work of the officers. Agents must have formal and ongoing training offered by the various professional associations. There should be hiring requirements that reflect the nature of the job. None of this is in place at Sangamon County Animal Control.

The county needs to continue to dedicate more resources to animal control, and one of the best investments is experienced, trained staff. The county recently lost two experienced animal control officers, out of a total of five. The Sangamon County Public Health Department starts Clerk Typists II with a salary of $37,995 per year. He starts an animal control officer at $36,695. The county’s explanation is that wages are the result of collective bargaining.

Macon County, a neighbor of Sangamon County seen as a model, faced the same dilemma, and they did something about it. Management actually worked with the union to improve the base salary.

Macon County Animal Control is operated by its sheriff’s department. Currently, a retired lieutenant, who will be replaced by a sergeant, is assigned to animal control to work with officers and support them in their myriad law enforcement responsibilities. They have put in place proper supervision and support for their agents.

Sangamon County still hasn’t recouped its volunteer base at the facility – volunteers are desperately needed to perform many tasks, including adoption promotions and counseling. The county has failed on all fronts to run a volunteer program.

For several years, local non-profit partners have covered the veterinary expenses necessary to benefit from the services of private clinics. This year, the county appropriated an “emergency” fund of $50,000. This fund does not cover emergency needs, it covers routine care needs and must be allocated at this rate each year. Nonprofits still contribute significantly, but they no longer have to cover as many cases that come to the door.

Illinois Humane continued to meet critical care needs, as well as assess and care for victims of neglect and cruelty cases (some of these cases are handled in cooperation with Animal Control). For just four of the cases handled this summer, the amount paid by Illinois Humane was nearly $15,000.

The county, in a newly drafted transfer partnership agreement (for acceptance of animals by other licensed shelters in the facility to relieve the facility’s census) included a non-disparagement provision. Given the history of this facility, no self-respecting animal welfare organization dedicated to preventing animal cruelty would sign such a thing – unless of course they had legal counsel who recognized and informs that the agreement is in fact unenforceable.

In reality, the transfer agreement as a whole is not necessary. Transfers are governed by operation of law in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. What is problematic about the clause is that it prohibits groups who have been very helpful in getting animals out of the SCAC in the past, who do not have legal assistance ready, from associating with the county now. Repeated requests for the county to remove the clause were met with silence.

During an election period, elected officials listen to what matters to their constituents. The pet products and services sector is a $1.25 billion industry and surveys indicate that 75% of society cares about animal welfare. After more than 20 years of working locally in animal welfare, I know these statistics apply equally to Springfield and Sangamon County. The people care deeply about their animals and the animals in need in this community. Reach out to registrants and new applicants to let them know that animal services are important to you.

Jane E. McBride is founder and president of Illinois Humane, a nonprofit organization whose primary mission is the investigation of cruelty and neglect, the recovery and rehabilitation of animals that are the subject of such cases, and the defense of rights. McBride has been a Licensed Humanitarian Investigator in the State of Illinois since 1999.